Updated: Oct 3, 2020
28th September 2020
All over the world, forest conservation activities are growing. The role of women, however, was never prominent in biodiversity preservation. But it is high time that the link between gender equality and environmental protection is recognized. Gender equality in environmental movements can be found in Brazil, where a group of ― women warriors consisting of rural women protect their habitats from extinction.
All over the world, forest conservation activities are growing. The role of women, however, was never prominent in biodiversity preservation. But it is high time that the link between gender equality and environmental protection is recognized. Gender equality in environmental movements can be found in Brazil, where a group of "women warriors" consisting of rural women protect their habitats from extinction.
Like the Chipko movement in India led by rural women, the Guajajara in the Brazilian Amazon portrays the impact of the inclusion of women in attaining the conservation goals. The Caru Indigenous Territory in the Amazon stretches out towards the northeastern coast of Brazil, which contains some of the last areas of intact, contiguous forest in Maranhão. The area was affected by high rates of deforestation and land conflicts over the past decade.
Last December, about half a dozen of the local Guajajara people set out to patrol a vast section of 173,000 hectares of the rainforest in the state of Maranhão, which is also their habitat. The speciality of this initiative is that all of them were women, some of whom parted with their children - with an uncertainty as to whether they would see them again. Paula Guajajara, one of the warriors, said that the reason they took the initiative was that they were mothers and if they would not act now, there would be no forest cover left in the area.
Their team is an embodiment of what politicians, environmentalists, and scholars around the world believe is an essential shift towards gender equality in environmental movements.
Taking the case of Brazil, protecting forests is one of the cheapest, easiest, and most effective solutions for combating climate change. So, the work they are doing is to save the mother earth from disastrous human intervention. There was close to 5,000 hectares of deforested land on the reserve in 2016. Thanks to the work of these women warriors, by 2018 the deforestation was reduced to about 156 acres, Global Forest Watch reports.
Amazon plays an important role in reducing the negative effects of climate change by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide in its forests. When cut down, burned, or degraded through logging, the forest not only ceases to fulfil this function, it also increases the carbon emissions in the air.
Women all over the world are adversely affected by climate change and environmental degradation much worse than men. Inequitable land tenure and women‘s reduced access to energy, water, and sanitation facilities negatively affect the human and environmental well being. The climate crisis will only make gender disparities worse.
The coronavirus poses an additional threat to the Indigenous people throughout the Amazon - especially in Brazil, where the death rate from COVID-19 is much higher than the national rate - the women are busy with caring for everyone in the village.
Having more women involved in everything, from environmental decision-making to climate politics, benefits society at large. Higher female participation in policy-making increases the equality and effectiveness of climate policy declarations. The world countries cannot afford to treat nature conservation and the fight for women‘s equality as separate issues. They must be addressed together.
(Sources: Mongabay, The Rainforest Site, IPS News, Tree Frog Creative) Edited by Satvik Pandey